1I speak the truth in Christ. I am not lying. My mind tells me that what I say is true. It is guided by the Holy Spirit.2My heart is full of sorrow. My sadness never ends.3I am so concerned about my people, who are members of my own race. I am ready to be cursed, if that would help them. I am even willing to be separated from Christ.4They are the people of Israel. They have been adopted as God’s children. God’s glory belongs to them. So do the covenants. They received the law. They were taught to worship in the temple. They were given the promises.5The founders of our nation belong to them. The Messiah comes from their family line. He is God over all. May he always be praised! Amen.
God’s free choice
6I do not mean that God’s word has failed. Not everyone in the family line of Israel really belongs to Israel.7Not everyone in Abraham’s family line is really his child. Not at all! Scripture says, ‘Your family line will continue through Isaac.’ (Ge 21:12)8In other words, God’s children are not just in the family line of Abraham. Instead, they are the children God promised to him. They are the ones considered to be Abraham’s children.9God promised, ‘I will return at the appointed time. Sarah will have a son.’ (Ge 18:10; Ge 18:14)10And that’s not all. Rebekah’s children were born at the same time by the same father. He was our father Isaac.11Here is what happened. Rebekah’s twins had not even been born. They hadn’t done anything good or bad yet. So they show that God’s purpose is based firmly on his free choice.12It was not because of anything they did but because of God’s choice. So Rebekah was told, ‘The elder son will serve the younger one.’ (Ge 25:23)13It is written, ‘I chose Jacob instead of Esau.’ (Mal 1:2; Mal 1:3)14What should we say then? Is God unfair? Not at all!15He said to Moses, ‘I will have mercy on whom I have mercy. I will show love to those I love.’ (Ex 33:19)16So it doesn’t depend on what people want or what they do. It depends on God’s mercy.17In Scripture, God says to Pharaoh, ‘I had a special reason for making you king. I decided to use you to show my power. I wanted my name to become known everywhere on earth.’ (Ex 9:16)18So God does what he wants to do. He shows mercy to one person and makes another stubborn.19One of you will say to me, ‘Then why does God still blame us? Who can oppose what he wants to do?’20But you are a mere human being. So who are you to talk back to God? Scripture says, ‘Can what is made say to the one who made it, “Why did you make me like this?” ’ (Isa 29:16; Isa 45:9)21Isn’t the potter free to make different kinds of pots out of the same lump of clay? Some are for special purposes. Others are for ordinary use.22What if God chose to show his great anger? What if he chose to make his power known? But he put up with the people he was angry with. They were made to be destroyed.23What if he put up with them to show the riches of his glory to other people? Those other people are the ones he shows his mercy to. He made them to receive his glory.24We are those people. He has chosen us. We do not come only from the Jewish race. Many of us are not Jews.25God says in Hosea, ‘I will call those who are not my people “my people.” I will call the one who is not my loved one “my loved one.” ’ (Ho 2:23)26He also says, ‘Once it was said to them, “You are not my people.” In that very place they will be called “children of the living God.” ’ (Ho 1:10)27Isaiah cries out concerning Israel. He says, ‘The number of people from Israel may be like the sand by the sea. But only a few of them will be saved.28The Lord will carry out his sentence. He will be quick to carry it out on earth, once and for all.’ (Isa 10:22; Isa 10:23)29Earlier Isaiah had said, ‘The Lord who rules over all left us children and grandchildren. If he hadn’t, we would have become like Sodom. We would have been like Gomorrah.’ (Isa 1:9)
Israel does not believe
30What should we say then? Gentiles did not look for a way to be right with God. But they found it by having faith.31The people of Israel tried to obey the law to make themselves right with God. But they didn’t reach their goal of being right with God.32Why not? Because they tried to do it without faith. They tried to be right with God by what they did. They tripped over the stone that causes people to trip and fall.33It is written, ‘Look! In Zion I am laying a stone that causes people to trip. It is a rock that makes them fall. The one who believes in him will never be put to shame.’ (Isa 8:14; Isa 28:16)